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Theatre Review: The 39 Steps


Theatre Review: The 39 Steps

Renae Adelsberger


Richard Hannay gets swept into a spy thriller in the Jackson Theatre Guild's current production of The 39 Steps.

When a gun is fired during a theater production, the seductive Annabella Schmidt convinces Richard Hannay to take her to his room for safety. While there, she is murdered. With her dying breaths, she mentions the mysterious "39 steps" in relation to a spy plot but does not reveal its meaning. Hannay, now a murder suspect, flees the country, follows Annabella's few, vague clues to discover the meaning of the 39 steps. 

Part spy thriller, part slapstick comedy, this production is by far one of the most creative to be performed on stage at the Ned. The set appears to be a hap hazard conglomeration of every prop the Theatre Guild must own. But even that plays into the hilarity of the show as actors are wheeled around stage in chairs and the set is updated every few minutes. 

Comedy relies on timing, and this show has many elements that were perfectly executed including dramatic music during moments of action or even just as a character peeks onto the stage. 

The actors themselves time their lines well with each other. Most of the actors play up to half a dozen characters each before the show ends. Frequently, they appear as two or three characters at once, bouncing between them with just a switch of a hat. 

By far the creative elements are the stars of the show. Without spoiling too much, I will say that no great play is complete without a strobe light or even a well placed shadow puppet production. 

If you're up for a laugh, come see the slapstick spy thriller, The 39 Steps, now playing at the Ned. 

To learn more about the Jackson Theatre Guild or to purchase tickets, visit their website.

After graduating from Union University, Renae Adelsberger and her husband Kevin decided to make Jackson their home due to their love for their church, nonprofits, local businesses, and abundance of Sonic drive-ins. You can read more from Renae at

Photographer Kevin Adelsberger and his wife Renae moved to Jackson for college (proud Union alumni) and have stayed every since. Jackson has since taken hold of Kevin’s heart, and he looks forward to continuing to grow with the city. Kevin opened Adelsberger Marketing in 2014 and saw working with Our Jackson Home as a way that he could serve the city he loves. Kevin and Renae are members of First Baptist Church and volunteer with the youth group there and with Madison County CASA.